Categories
General

Favourite connections of the year 2020

Advertisements

It’s been 2 years since my last “favourite connections of the year”. This year has been a little rubbish, and I feel it’s a perfect time to bring it back. I feel like I have made a ton of new friends online this year, and if I miss anyone out, I do apologise.

There have been many tech peeps which I have made great connections with this year. This includes Emmett Naughton, Kurt Kemple, Josh, Damon Chen, Rosie Sherry, Erika Heidi, and Riley Quin.

Emmett is an aspiring developer and father. He’s looking to break into the tech industry and land his first paid job. He has already completed his first freelance project, and I have every bit of faith that he will achieve his goal.

Kurt Kemple is a CrossFitter much like myself, which is where the connection sparked. He has supported me throughout the year, and I have also tried to do the same in return. He’s very passionate about everything he does, and he’s an all-round lovely person.

Josh and I have only just met each other. However, our interactions have been very nice, and he’s a really nice person. I enjoy reading his tweets and joining in conversations with him. Really, I hope he and his company “PrimCloud” go far in life.

Damon was spotted on Indie Hackers, and he created a really cool website called lonely.dev. It was the first set up to help lonely working from home developers create quick dev updates, and connect to other developers. His site has since grown, and he renamed it to indielog due to the amount of different content uploaded. Damon has been accommodating and has been very supportive of me this year. Which I am very thankful for. He always seems to be releasing project after project, and I think many of them will go far. He will also go very far in life.

Rosie is another Indie Hacker, and she manages their social media. Which on the surface probably sounds easy. However, I think managing social media is a lot harder than most people expect. She’s an awesome and supportive person and is always open to talk. I love seeing her content on IH, and I even subscribed to her newsletter (which I suggest you do too). She shares her wins, and mistakes so we can all learn from her.

Erika is lovely. She’s a PHP developer just like me, and she works for Digital Ocean. During the week, she will go live. She will either create a programming project or a 3D printed project. They’re always fun to watch, and I’ve honestly learnt so much from her. If programming or 3D printing is your thing, then you should check her out.

Riley uses Coil’s platform, which I recently joined (you can read my review here). My content got featured on the platform, and she tweeted to me about it. This was our first interaction, and she congratulated me on the feature. It was great to see how supportive she is, and I started reading her fascinating posts. She has a lot to say, and she also sings really well. You can take a look at her writing here and follow her YouTube channel too. She’s another great person to talk to and is very open to listening if you need to speak to her.

My list slowly grew as I was writing this, and I’m sure I have missed out so many people. If you were missed out, please don’t be upset. If we have spoken at any time this year, then you should know I cherish our conversations. Also, I want to take a minute and thank every single person I’ve spoken to this year, whether it was just a passing hello, or a full on chat. Thank you for being a part of my 2020, and I hope we can speak again soon.

Enjoy reading this blog? Please consider subscribing using the form below.

Categories
General

How I got my blog to 3,893 views last month

Advertisements

Last week I checked my website’s analytics and took a lot at how many views I had compared to the previous months. I was genuinely surprised that I managed to gain over 3,000 views. The jump between the previous month was 1,600 difference.

It’s so big that I thought I’d make a post on how I managed to grow my blog over time. Please also be aware that I have been a blogger on and off for over ten years. The views over time aren’t extraordinary compared to other bloggers, but it is a noteworthy achievement.

How did I build up my views?

Last month, I focused on building my social followers. I updated my Facebook page, Tweet more on Twitter. My blog posts have been imported into my Medium profile and also posted to my Coil profile. Last month was also my first full month of weekly posting to my Substack newsletter. And even though I don’t think Substack affected my website views, it’s helped me grow a tight-knit community. If you’re not sure what any of these social networks are. Or you’re not sure how to utilise them, don’t worry, I’ll explain that now.

I haven’t focused on growing my LinkedIn connections, but I have started converting my blog posts into LinkedIn articles. No one from LinkedIn has been signed up to my newsletter subscribers or viewed my website. Because of this, I don’t think it’s worth writing about today.

How I use my Facebook page

For my Facebook page, I’m not sure how many people are people I don’t know vs friends who have liked my page. However, I decided to go to ham on the invite button and invite everyone on my friend’s list, which has helped me from 138 to 142-page likes. I think a handful of those likes have clicked to view my website at some point.

I’ve mostly been sharing my newsletter posts instead of my blog posts on Facebook. This means most views won’t actually be coming from here unless they click on about section which most users won’t do.

How I use my Twitter profile

Twitter is, by far, my most used social network. It’s incredible how you can find so many amazing people and connect with them. I follow people I find interesting and join in their conversations when I feel if the right moment.

Most of my interaction is liking and retweeting, which I think if you’re just starting. It won’t be the best strategy. I feel the best approach is searching for interesting topics, and join in the conversation.

Every so often I’ll chuck in a hashtag or two, but I don’t focus on hashtags. I’ll mostly focus on following and connecting with new and current people within my network. Be yourself and don’t seek out to be something you’re not. If you try to be fake, people will know, and they will call you out for it.

Medium is excellent as an additional source for your blog posts. If you haven’t signed up, I would recommend you do it now and join the partner platform. Once you’re on the partner platform, you will get revenue based on a reader’s read time. The longer you can keep them interested in your post, the more money you can make from them.

My strategy is importing my posts into a Medium story, which will add a canonical link back to your original blog post, and have a link in the footer which says “Originally published at https://michaelbrooks.co.uk“. I’ve joined a couple of Medium groups and participate in any posts where possible.

How I use Coil

This is where I believe most of my new traffic has come from, and I connected my blog to their payments system so I could receive support from their readers, and linked my latest posts to my profile page. A couple of my posts have been featured on their community-supported section which I’m proud of, and the community on Coil has been very welcoming, and I’ve connected to a few people from here on Twitter.

If you haven’t done so, I recommend you take a look at Coil’s website and sign up. If you’re wondering how much I made from here last month, it was around 10 pence, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s better than nothing, and it helps keep me going.

How I use Substack

My latest blog posts are also created as a newsletter post. Honestly, I’m not sure how long I’ll carry on doing this for as I’m thinking of changing the format of this. What I might do is create links to my latest articles which will be posted to my blog, and new sections such as what I’m currently reading, what I’m listening to and who I’ve found interesting this week.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then please leave a comment down below, and I’d love to read it. Alternatively, you can @ or dm me on Twitter, Facebook, wherever takes your fancy.

Bonus: How I use Hacker News

Hacker News or HN as others like to call it is a great community of developers, creators and business owners. They offer a lot of advice and support, and overall they’re a fantastic community. I’ve posted a few milestones and updates on there, and have received comments, views and new followers.

I decided to create a new group called “Creator interviews” which anyone can contribute to, but so only I have added content there. I have also linked to my blog where I deemed it was helpful for the topic at hand, and I think this has helped me gain extra viewers on my blog.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much how I use the plethora of social networks, and I’m constantly exploring new avenues and seeing what works, and what doesn’t. As always, you’re more than welcome to comment below and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t done so already.

Categories
General

The demise of social networks

Advertisements

Creating my own social network

For what seems like forever, I wanted to create my very own social networking site. At first, it was going to compete with Facebook, have reactions (before they invented it), and use open technologies. I started creating something with my custom PHP, I created the ability to register, log in and add friends. It was going great and my friends were playing around with it. A few bugs were being reported which I would try to fix, and a few months later, I got bored.

Years after my experience, Laravel (a fantastic PHP framework) appeared, and a spark reignited. I tried to recreate a social network on and off and rebooted it so many times. It was meant to be decentralised and have so many bells and whistles but after so many agonising years I decided it was time to give up the ghost.

Every social network dies eventually

I knew that Facebook and other social networks only have so long to live. We’ve seen the demise of Bebo, MySpace, PhotoBooth and so many more social networks just disappear. Facebook will have its day, and I think that day will be very soon.

The future is here

There are now websites like Mastodon and Squeet which are completely decentralised. You can download their source code and place it on your very own website then ask friends/family to join it.

These websites also connect to ActivityPub (I’ll call it AP for short), and this is where it gets incredibly interesting. AP is completely open and decentralised, it’s a data format that anyone can create and can be used on any website. To prove it, I have it installed right here on my WordPress blog although I never created the plugin, it works fantastically already. Every time I publish a blog post, it communicates with AP and gets sent to every social network reading from it including Mastodon and Squeet (to name a few).

Your very own social network in a pinch

This got me thinking, what if we could make the process so simple, everyone can have their own social network? Almost as easy as connecting WordPress to JetPack in order to connect to the WP community. What if we could make a simple static site that can be deployed to a server with a push of a button and almost be free? This would then instantly connect you to everyone via AP.

This is still a pie in the sky idea, but I honestly think it’s doable, and it will be something I am potentially looking into this year.

If you have any ideas, then please send them over. If I start this project, I will keep you all updated.

Categories
General

We don’t need a social networking website. We need building websites to be more accessible.

Advertisements

Some may know that I’ve been wanting to build an open-source social networking website for a long time. The trouble with building a social networking site is there is so much to do. Especially if you want to build something that’s on par with the likes of Facebook.

No one wants to help build it with you and it’s hard to build all of it yourself. I really wanted to get something out there, especially with the news on Facebook recently. I thought to myself “this is it, I need to build this now”. Then start building and just get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done.

There are already open source social platforms out there already, but I thought I could build it better (I was so wrong about this). There are also decentralised social networking platforms that are great, but it isn’t accessible to everyone.

What could we do instead?

This got me thinking, what we need to do is make building a website easier and cheaper. We need a platform that similar to that of myspace where you can build your profile how you like, but more limited so we don’t have a huge mess with flashy gifs.

We then also need the ability to add a custom domain and connect that as easily as possible. People would then be able to have their own personalised website that is also their profile.

They should have full control over what is shown and what isn’t and they should be able to download that code fully to allow them to move to another server if they so choose.

These sites/profiles should be able to connect (or subscribe to) one another. I suspect in a very similar way to how WordPress and JetPack connect to one another.

I guess you could reskin WordPress as a more profile based website and have a platform like wordpress.com that allows users who are a less experienced sign-up and build their profile. More advanced users will download and its places on their server and then start building their profile.